Fruits of Freedom: The Catholic Press in America 1789-1829

Howard W. Gunlocke Rare Book and Special Collections Room

I. Catholic Publications Before 1789

Aitken, John

A Compilation of the Litanies and Vespers Hymns And Anthems as They are Sung in the Catholic Church Adapted to the Voice or Organ By Iohn Aitken Philadelphia. 1787

The first publication in America of Catholic church music, and the first volume of engraved music published here. Opened to the setting of a portion of the long hymn of St. Bernard, the “Jesu dulcis memoria.”


[Séguenot, François, d. 1727]

A Letter from a Romish Priest in Canada, To One who was taken Captive in her Infancy, and Instructed in the Romish Faith, but some time ago returned to this her Native Country. With an Answer thereto, By a Person to whom it was Communicated. Boston: Printed for D. Henchman, at the Corner Shop over against the Brick Meeting-House in Corn-hill. MDCCXXIX

Published in Protestant Boston largely to give an airing to the reply—like Séguenot’s letter, controversial in tone—attributed to Governor William Burnet. Apparently the first work written by a Catholic, excepting schoolboy texts derived from the writings of Erasmus, to be printed in British North America.


[Fénélon, François de Salignac de la Mothe, 1651-1715]

The Archbishop of Cambray’s Dissertation on Pure Love, With An Account of the Life and Writings of the Lady, for whose sake the Archbishop was banish-d from Court. And the Grievous Persecutions she suffer’d in France for her Religion. Also Two Letters in French and English, written by one of the Lady’s Maids, during her Confinement in the Castle of Vicennes, where she was a Prisoner Eight Years: One of the Letters was writ with a Bit of Stick instead of a Pen, and Soot instead of Ink, to her Brother; the Other to a Clergyman. Together with an Apologetic Preface Containing divers Letters of the Archbishop of Cambray, to the Duke of Burgundy, the present French King’s Father, and other Persons of the Distinction: Also Divers Letters of the Lady to Persons of Quality, Relating to her Religious Principles….London: Printed, and Re-printed by Andrew Bradford at the Sign of the Bible, in Front-Street Philadelphia, MDCCXXXVIII.

What Fénélon and the lady—Mme. De la Mothe Guyon—have to say concerning “the inward operation of God’s spirit” seems to be the essential reason for the publication of this volume. The very long “Apologetic Preface” makes it plain that a Protestant, rather than a Catholic, readership is envisaged. In a strictly contemporary American binding, possibly from Bradford’s own shop.


Bernard de Clairvaux, Saint, 1091-1153

A Hymn of St. Bernard’s to the Holy Jesus. Boston: Printed by B. Green and Comp. at their Printing-House in Newbury-street, for D. Gookin, at his shop the Corner of Water-street, in Cornhil. 1744.

Of interest for its intense experience of the love of Jesus, the hymn explores a variety of sensual responses to divine love but does not raise doctrinal issues that would make it unpalatable to a Protestant audience.


Thomas, à Kempis, 1380-1471

The Christian Pattern, Or the Imitation of Jesus Christ, Being an Abridgement of the Works of Thomas à Kempis. By a Female Hand. London Printed M.DCC,XLIV. Germantown: Re-Printed, by Christophor Sowr 1749

The first American printing of this classic of medieval spirituality; it was often, complete or in the form of extracts, reprinted during the 18th century in and around Philadelphia, where a Catholic community worshipped openly beginning in the 1730’s. This copy from the Library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BV4821 .A1 1749

[Challoner, Richard, 1691-1781]

The Garden of the Soul: or, A Manual of Spiritual Exercises and Instructions for Christians who (living in the World) aspire to Devotion. The Seventh Edition, Corrected. London: Printed. Philadelphia: Re-printed, By Joseph Crukshank, in Market Street, between Second and Third Streets. [1774]

First published in London in 1740, Challoner’s devotional work proved a hardy perennial. This, the first American printing, was probably arranged for Rev. Robert Molyneux (a Jesuit until the suppression in 1773). Probably the first Catholic devotional work printed in the colonies. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX 2110 .C5 1773 Vault

A Manual of Catholic Prayers

Philadelphia. Printed for the Subscribers, By Robert Bell, Bookseller, in Third-street. MDCCLXXIV.

This anonymous compilation—probably attributable to Rev. Robert Molyneux—draws some of its text directly from Challoner’s work published in the same year. With this copy is bound a set of Bell’s proposals for printing yet another devotional work by Challoner (of which no copy has been located). The artist who created the woodcut frontispiece has not been identified.


[Carroll, John, 1735-1815]

An Address to the Roman Catholics of the United States of America. By a Catholic Clergyman. Annapolis: Printed by Frederick Green. M.DCC.LXXXIV.

The first work written by a native American Catholic to be published here, and the first Catholic controversial work written by an American. Carroll’s pamphlet was precipitated by the publication in Philadelphia of a work by Charles Wharton, an English Jesuit who apostasized.


[Fontaine, Nicolas, 1625-1709]

The History of the Old and New Testament, Interspersed with Moral and Instructive Reflections, Chiefly Taken from the Holy Fathers. From the French. By J. Reeve. The Third Edition. Philadelphia,: Printed by M. Steiner, in Race-street, For C. Talbot, late of Dublin, Printer and Bookseller, 1784.

First American edition. An elaborate paraphrase on the Scriptures arranged in historical order. The volume was published by subscription: Maryland and Pennsylvania Catholics (and some Protestant booksellers, as well) signed up for a total of 481 copies. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BS635.A2 F6 1784

[Carroll, John, 1735-1815]

Proposals for Establishing an Academy, at George-Town, Patowmack-River, Maryland. [Baltimore? 1786?]

This broadside, together with a printed letter specifically soliciting pledges of funds, marks the actual beginning of Georgetown University. The copy shown was sent to Edward Weld, one of Carroll’s English agents, March 30, 1787; the note at the bottom is in Carroll’s hand.

II. Bibles and Liturgical Works

The Holy Bible

Translated from the Latin Vulgate: Diligently compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and Other Editions, in Divers Languages; and First Published by the English College at Doway, Anno 1609. Newly Revised, and Corrected, According to the Clementine Edition of the Scriptures. With Annotations for Elucidating the Principal Difficulties of Holy Writ…Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Carey, Stewart, and Co. M.DCC.XC.

The first American printing of the Catholic version of the Bible, originally issued in parts. The list of subscribers records the newly-ordained Bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll, as taking no fewer than 20 copies.

Shea BS180 1790

Cantiques francais a l’usage du catechism de l’eglise de Saint-Patrice de Baltimore

A Baltimore, De l’Imprimerie de Jean Hayes, pour le compte de Jacques Rice et Comp. M,DCC,XCVIII.

Hymns, generally with designated tunes, corresponding to various aspects of Catholic teaching. Baltimore was a haven for French refugees from the revolutions in the Caribbean, as well as the site of a French Sulpician seminary. This copy the gift of Rev. Enoch Fenwick, S.J., with pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC E836

Anthems, Hymns, &c. Usually Sung at the Catholick Church in Boston

Boston: Printed by Manning & Loring. 1800.

Edited by Rev. Jean Louis Aimé Madeleine Lefebvre de Cheverus (1768-1836), later bishop of Boston and archbishop of Bordeaux. Cheverus re-issued this work in a greatly enlarged form in 1803, with much added devotional and liturgical material. This copy in a dated (1801) black morocco binding with the owner’s name stamped in a red morocco inlay on the upper board.


The Holy Bible

Translated from the Latin Vulgate: Diligently Compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and Other Editions in Divers Languages. The Old Testament, First Published by the English College at Doway, A.D. 1609. And the New Testament, First Published by the English College at Rhemes, A.D. 1582. With Annotations, References, and an Historical and Chronological Index. First American, from the Fifth Dublin Edition. Newly Revised and Corrected According to the Clementin Edition of the Scriptures. Philadelphia: Published by Mathew Carey, No. 122, Market-Street. Oct. 15, M.DCCC.V.

Despite the claim on the title page, actually the second American Catholic Bible. Issued with a series of 3 maps (2 folding) and 10 engraved plates by Tiebout, Warnicke, and others. The New Testament was also available for sale as a separate item. The plates were originally published in Carey’s profitable line of Protestant Bibles; they are known in several states. This copy has pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC A125

Le Nouveau Testament de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, en français, sur la Bulgate

Traduction de L. M. de Sacy. Revue sur les meilleures editions….Boston: De l’imprimerie de J. T. Buckingham. 1810.

The first American Catholic Testament in French, published in 2 volumes. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BS2130 1810

The Office of the Holy Week, According to the Roman Missal and Breviary

Containing the Morning and Evening Service, from Palm-Sunday to Tuesday in Easter-week; in Latin and English. With a Preface to the Service of Each Day, Explaining the Mysteries Represented in the Office and Ceremonies of the Holy Week. The First American Edition. Baltimore: Printed for Bernard Dornin, and Sold at His Rom. Catholic Library, 30, Balt. St. G. Dobbin & Murphy, Printers. 1810.

As the seat of America’s first diocese, Baltimore developed a need for sophisticated liturgical materials earlier than some other places. The first item in this work is the ordinary of the Mass, which would increase its usefulness beyond just the Easter season.

General LC BX2010 .A4 1810

Office de la semaine sainte

selon le Missel et le Breviaire romain contenant les offices du matin, les vepres, &c. depuis le dimanche des rameaux, jusqu’au mardi de Paques, inclusivement. En latin et en francois. Avec des prefaces, placées avant l’office de chaque jour; pour en expliquer les mysteres, et les ceremonies. Première edition d’Amerique. A Baltimore, Imprime pour Bernard Dornin et vendu par le-meme, a son office de libraire catholique romain, 30, rue de Balt. G. Dobbin & Murphy, imprim. 1810.

A French version of the preceding, although there are some textual variations in the concluding selection of prayers. Clearly the French community in Baltimore was still vigorous at this date. This copy donated by the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, Kentucky.


Epistles and Gospels for All Sundays and Holidays Throughout the Year

New Edition. Printed from the 6th. Edition of Dublin 1794 & first published by the English College at Rhemes 1582. Detroit. Printed by T. Mettez. 1812.

Facing title page in French, citing the text published in Quebec in 1802. The first American Catholic Scriptures published in the West, a bi-lingual edition printed at the press established by Rev. Gabriel Richard in 1809. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BS2547.A3 D8 1812

The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Translated Out of the Latin Vulgate: Diligently Compared with the Original Greek: and Frist Published by the English College of Rhemes, Anno. 1582: With Annotations. Newly revised and corrected according to the Clementin Edition of the Scriptures. Georgetown, D. C. Printed by W. Duffy, Bookseller and Stationer, 1817.

The first American Catholic English New Testament in small format. An unusual publishing venture outside the normal Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore Catholic printing axis; a projected complete Bible never appeared. One possible difficulty: Duffy secured no subscriptions from Georgetown College (though Rev. Francis Malevé in Frederick, Maryland, took 50 copies). This copy nonetheless displays pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC D788

The Roman Missal

Translated into the English Language for the Use of the Laity: with the Addition of Several New Masses. From the Last London Edition. Philadelphia: Eugene Cummiskey, 130 South Sixth Street. [1826?]

The first complete edition of the Roman Missal published in America, dated from the earliest entry in the calendar of movable feasts. The text of the ordinary of the Mass had been available previously in a number of devotional and liturgical books; before 1789 not even a handful of American Catholic congregations could have made use of such a sophisticated liturgical guide as this.

General LC BX2016 .A4 1826

III. Works of Private Devotion

The Pious Guide to Prayer and Devotion. Containing Various Practices of Piety Calculated to Answer the Various Demands of the Different Devout Members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Permissu Superiorium. George-Town: (Potowmack) Printed by James Doyle. M.DCC.XCII.

The first printing of this American-made devotional manual, many times reprinted. The contents, which include novenas to St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius Loyola, point to compilation by one or more of the former Maryland Jesuits or by the Englishman Rev. Robert Plunkett, who became Georgetown’s first president in 1791. The concluding section contains the Latin text necessary for a person assisting the priest at the Mass.  This copy has the pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC M610


Catholisches Gebaet-Buch

Baltimore: Gedruckt bey Samuel Saur, 1795.

Nothing is known about the origins of this little prayerbook, and the place of imprint is something of a mystery as well, since Baltimore's German community was predominantly of Lutheran or Reformed background. In the original German-style dark sheep binding.


Huby, Vincent, 1608-1693

The Spiritual Retreat of the Reverend Father Vincent Huby of the Society of Jesus. Translated from the French. Philadelphia: Printed for Mathew Carey, No. 118, Market-Street, 1795.

The first printed guide for those desirous of making a spiritual retreat published in America, incorporating 6 pages of its publisher's advertisements for completely secular works at the back. Huby's text first appeared in print in 1678 in France.


Hay, George, 1729-1811

The Pious Christian Instructed, in the Nature and Practice of the Principal Exercises of Piety, Used in the Catholic Church. By Bishop Hay. Philadelphia, Printed for Mathew Carey, No. 118, Market-Street. By James Carey. Nov. 10, 1800.

The first American edition. Hay's work contains the usual sequence of devotions including the Latin text for a server at Mass; it never became a popular text in America, however. First published in England in 1781-86. This copy donated by Charles H. Trunnel.


[Bowes, Robert, 1673-1735]

Practical Reflections for Every Day in the Year, By a Father of the Society of Jesus. ...First American Edition, Published by and with the Authority of the Right Rev. Bishop Carroll. New-York: Published by Bernard Dornin, At his Roman Catholic Bookstore, 136, Pearl-street. J. Seymour, printer. 1808.

The introduction by the editor, Rev. Francis Neale, S.J., then-pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown, claims that the volume is a literal reprint of the original edition. The president of Georgetown, its teachers, and its students subscribed for a total of 333 copies. The copy shown has the pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.


[David, Jean Baptiste Marie, 1761-1841]

True Piety, or, The Day Well Spent; Being a Catholic Manual of Chosen Prayers, Devout Practices, and Solid Instructions. Adapted to every state of life. Taken Partly from the French. ...First American Edition, with considerable additions by a Catholic Clergyman of Baltimore, and with the authority of the Right Rev. Bishop Carroll. Baltimore: Printed and Sold by Warner & Hanna, at the Bible and Heart Printing Office. 1809.

So enlarged by David as to be almost a new work, although ostensibly based on an edition written by "Dr. C----" published in Cork in 1797 or 1798. The book's popularity lasted for nearly 30 years. This copy signed on the title page by Rev. Ambrose Maréchal, third Archbishop of Baltimore, and with a 3-page prayer to the Virgina Mary written by him at the front; later the copy owned by Rev. J. M. Finotti (and John Gilmary Shea).

Shea BX2110 .D38 1809

[Baudrand, Barthélemi, 1701-1787]

L'Ame penitente ou le nouveau Pensez-y-bien; consideration sur les ve'rite's eternelles, Avec des Histoires & de Exemples. Nouvelle edition Revue & Augmentée par l'Auteur de 1 Ame élévee à Dieu. Au Detroit, Imprimé par Jacques M. Miller. MDCCCIX.

A volume of meditations based on a text by the French Jesuit Rev. Paul Le Clerc, the fourth book published by the press of Rev. Gabriel Richard in Detroit. Like a number of other surviving copies of this work, this coyp was never originally distributed but was probably bound up from unsewn sheets early in the 20th century using pseudo-antique calf boards: a stupid prank, but the volume is rare in any condition.

Detroit BX2183 .B38 1809

Francis, de Sales, Saint, 1567-1622

An Introduction to a Devout Life. From the French of St. Francis of Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva. To which is added, an Abstract of His Life. First American From the Sixth London Edition, revised and corrected. Baltimore: Published by Bernard Dornin, And for sale at his Catholick Bookstore, No. 5, Saratoga-street, within a few yards of the Arch-Bishop's. J. Robinson, printer. 1816.

An unusual publication, since, although it is a Christian classic, the work lies outside the Jesuit devotional tradition which then flourished in the United States. Georgetown College, nonetheless, subscribed for 100 of the more than 1,000 copies originally ordered.



[David, Jean Baptiste Marie, 1761-1841]

True Piety, or, The Day Well Spent, Being a Catholic Manual, of Chosen Prayers, Devout Practices, and Solid Instructions. Adapted to every State of Life. Taken Partly from the French. ...From the Second American Edition. By the Authority of the Right Rev. Bishop David. Lexington, Printed at the Kentucky Gazette Office. 1824.

The popularity of Bishop David's devotional work led to its reprinting with additions and changes never authorized by David. He had this careful reprint of his original edition made to make his original compilation once again available: the printer even slavishly copied the calendar of movable feasts, commencing it with the year 1809. This copy donated by the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, Kentucky.


IV. Church Publications and Church Business

[Bouchard de la Poterie, Claude Florent, b. 1751]

A Pastoral Letter, From The Apostolic Vice-Prefect, Curate of the Holy Cross at Boston. [Boston: Thomas & Andrews, 1789]

The primary document in the history of Catholicism in Boston, promulgated on Quinquagesima Sunday (February 22), 1789. Poterie in his pastoral established a congregation of Americans and French nationals, laid out an elaborate plan for Holy Week services, and established a formula for set prayers anda slightly idiosyncratic form of the Mass for Sunday observances. A large number of "public" sinners were excluded from his communion, including "Comedians of either sex." This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX874.L37 P3 1789

[Plowden, Charles, 1743-1821]

A Short Account of the Establishment of the New See of Baltimore, in Maryland, and of Consecrating the Right Reverend Dr. John Carroll, first Bishop thereof, on the Feast of the Assumption, 1790. With a Discourse, Delivered on that Occasion; and the Authority for Consecrating the Bishop and Erecting and Administering the Said See. London: Printed. Philadelphia: Re-printed by Carey, Stewart, & Co., M.DCC.XCI.

"Since the peace of 1783, and the settlement of the American constitution, penal laws are no longer known: and catholicks enjoy an equal participation of the rights of human nature with their neighbours, of every other religious denomination. The very term of toleration is exploded: because it imports a power in one predominant sect, to indulge that religious liberty to others, which all claim as an inherent right." [p. 4] The first American edition.

Carroll, John, 1735-1815

John, By Divine Permission, and with the Approbation of the Holy See, Bishop of Baltimore, To my dearly beloved Brethren, the Members of the Catholic Church in this Diocese, Health and Blessing, Grace to you and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. [Baltimore? 1792]

Carroll's first pastoral letter, setting forth particulars of the first diocesan synod (1791) and various devotional concerns, but commencing with a long statement promoting Christian education, not least as it may immediately be found in the newly-opened school at "George-Town." This copy borrowed from the Woodstock Library.

Carroll, John, 1735-1815

Joannes Dei et aplcæ. sedis gratia, Episcopus Baltimori [blank] Salutem in Domino. [Baltimore? not after 1794]

Printed form for the granting of faculties to priests coming into the diocese of Baltimore; this copy accomplished in Carroll's hand for Father John Rossiter, September 18, 1794. Like much official church printing not meant to be "published" as such. This copy borrowed from the Maryland Province Archives.

Ordo divini officii recitandi missæque celebrandæ juxta breviarium et missale romanum; ad usum ecclesiæ totiusque diæcesis Baltimorensis pro anno Domini MDCCCI

Baltimori: Typis Johannis Hayes [1800]

First published for the year 1795, this official calendar of the church year provided a standard for the celebration of Masses and the recital of private prayers. This copy, its sewing gone, still retains its stiff blue-paper covers.

General LC BX2000.A3 B35 1800

Walsh, Patrick

Lettre Pastorale. Patrice Walsh, Vicaire Général, Proviseur et Gouverneur Spirituel du Diocèse de la Louisiane, à tous les Fidèles Catholiques, Apostoliques et Romains de la ville de la Nouvelle-Orléans, Salut en Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. [New Orleans, 1805]

Walsh became Vicar-General of Louisiana after the American occupation (Louisiana was acquired by the United States in 1803). In this pastoral he asserts his authority against any rival (not named); fixes the place and times of worship; and lists those of the clergy who will be recognized as working with him. The only recorded copy, from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX874.W34 L4 1805

Manuale clericorum Seminarii S. Sulpitii Baltimorensis

Continens 1. Varias preces, quæ in illo Seminario recitari solent. 2. Officium parvum B. Mariæ Virginis. 3. Ordinem devotionis Viæ Crucis, seu Calvarii, quæ ex Indulto Pii VII in prædictor Seminario instituta est. 4. Brevem expositionem Indulgentiarum, quas singuli Fideles Iuerari possunt; speciatim vero earum, quæ Seminariis S. Sulpitii a Pio VI. concessæ fuerunt. Baltimori: Typis Johannis W. Butler. 1808.

First edition of this manual of rites published primarily for the students of the Sulpician seminary in Baltimore. Of exceptional interest is the newly-inaugurated "Devotion of the Way of the Cross," printed, despite the title page, in English. This copy donated by the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, Kentucky, bearing the early ownership inscription of Rev. Guy Ignatius Chabrat, coadjutor Bishop of Bardstown after 1834.

Instructions on the Erection of Four New Catholic Episcopal Sees in the United States, and the Consecration of their First Bishops...

Celebrated in Baltimore on the 23rd October, 1st and 4th November. In which the signification of the various ceremonies used in that sacred rite is fully explained and developed, and the principal Formulæ and Prayers transcribed in English for the convenience of the Laity. Baltimore: Printed for Bernard Dornin, and Sold at His Roman Catholic Library, 30, Baltimore-Street, G. Dobbin and Murphy--Print. 1810.

First edition. A bi-lingual publication, parallel title and text being provided in French. It need only be observed that John Carroll, the Archbishop of Baltimore who presided at the three consecrations (one nominee died before reaching America) was 75 years old and had episcopal supervision of the entire United States.

General LC BX1417.B3 I6 1810

The Laity's Directory to the Church Service, for the Year of Our Lord, 1817.

Being the first after Leap Year, and forty-first of the Independence of the United States of America. To which are added, An Obituary, Biography, and an account of the Catholic Churches, Colleges, Seminaries, Benevolent Institutions, &c. &c. in the United States and Canada. Also, A New Year's Gift, and a variety of edifying and interesting information, with an Almanac, Exclusive of All Useless Matter. New-York: Published and Sold by M. Field, At his Library, 177 Bowery, within a few doors of Delancey-street. 1817.

Bound with the original printed wrappers at the front; Field's disclaimer for not giving all the information specified is printed on the lower wrapper. This copy, acquired in 1852 by Rev. J. M. Finotti (for $3.00--a princely sum!) is the only one ever located, and no further issues appeared. From the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX845 .L35 1817 Vault

The Laity's Directory to the Church Service, for the Year of Our Lord, M,DCCC,XXII.

A Table of Moveable Feasts. ...Revised and Corrected by the Rev. John Power, Of St. Peter's Church. New-York: Published by William H. Creagh. B. Belmore, Printer, 70 Bowery. 1822.

This, the second attempt at establishing an annual "Catholic directory," was no more successful than had been Field in 1817, although possibly as many as a dozen copies of this attempt still survive. A viable annual directory was begun in 1833. This copy, displaying the entry for Georgetown College, donated by Charles H. Trunnel.

General LC BX845 .L45 1822

V. Controversial Works

[Challoner, Richard, 1691-1781]

The Unerring Authority of the Catholic Church, in Matters of Faith. Maintained Against the Exceptions of a Late Author, in His Answer to a Letter on the Subject of Infallibility; or, A Theological Dissertation; In which the Infallibility of the Church of Christ is demonstrated from innumerable Texts of Scripture, from the Creed, from the Fathers, and perpetual Tradition. To which are prefixed, Eight Preliminaries, by Way of Introduction to the True Church of Christ. ... London: Printed. Philadelphia: re printed for T. Lloyd. MDCCLXXXIX.

The first American edition. published by subscription. Challoner's opening statement, after his "preliminaries," makes the best case of the publication of this work in the United States, where religious freedom makes rational persuasion the "ultimate weapon" in religious disputes: if "unerring authority" be granted (or enforced), all further arguments fall. This copy displays the pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

Shea F985

Thayer, John, 1755-1815

Controversy Between The Reverend John Thayer, Catholic Missionary of Boston, and The Reverend George Lesslie, Pastor of a Church, in Washington, New Hampshire. George-Town: [Potowmack] Printed by Alexander Doyle. 1791.

The second book printed in Georgetown. The 4 letters (3 by Thayer) were assembled by the printer to supply a public demand for knowledge of the controversy in the absence of copies of the "Eastern papers" which carried it seriatim. Thayer originally offered battle on all fronts; Lesslie chose "infallibility" as the theme of debate; and, as usual, neither side really spoke to the other. No other copy of this pamphlet is known.


[Brosius, Francis Xavier]

Antwort eines Roemisch-Catholischen Priesters an einen Friedensliebenden Prediger der Lutherischen Kirche. Lancaester: Gedruckt bey Johann Albrecht und Comp. 1796.

Only edition. Brosius assembles a compendious review of the differences between the Catholic and Lutheran faiths, including the nature of the Eucharist and the question of "infallibility."


Turberville, Henry, d. 1678

A Manual of Controversies: Clearly Demonstrating the Truth of Catholic Religion by Texts of Holy Scripture. Councils of All Ages. Fathers for the First 500 Years. Common Sense and Reason. And Fully Answering the Principal Objections of Protestants and All Other Sectaries. ... The First American, from the Fifth London Edition, Corrected. Philadelphia: Printed by B. Graves, for David Doyle. 1806.

The manual is constructed in scholastic fashion, objections being answered primarily on the basis of logic. If the list of subscribers represents the entire print run (and it may well be fairly close), the volume's rarity today is inescapable, since only 203 copies were initially subscribed. This copy donated by Rev. J. M. Finotti to John Gilmary Shea in 1872 and from the latter's library.

Shea BX1750 .T8 1806


Fletcher, John, d. 1848

Reflections on the Spirit, &c., &c. of Religious Controversy: with Observations on the Discourses of Doctor Proteus, Bishop of London; Doctor Watson, Bishop of Landaff; Doctor Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham; and Doctor Rennell, of London. By the Rev. Dr. Fletcher, of Hexham, England. New-York: Printed and Published for Bernard Dornin, Bookseller, 136, Pearl-street. 1808.

In his preface Fletcher sets out the wonderful truth of all religious controversy: "It is impossible to show, that our religion or principles are true, without proving that all opposite religions, or principles, are false." This copy with the title page signature of Rev. John Power, from 1819 pastor of St. Peter's, New York.


[Baxter, Roger, 1792-1827]

The Alexandria Controversy: or A Series of Letters Between M. B. & Quæro, on the Tenets of Catholicity, Which Appeared in the Alexandria Newspapers. With Notes. Georgetown, D.C. Printed by W. Duffy, Bookseller and Stationer. 1817.

An ill-tempered and somewhat superficial interchange, begun with an anonymous article in praise of Martin Luther on the 300th anniversary of the Reformation. "M.B." was Roger Baxter, a Jesuit then teaching at Georgetown, and the volume's editor, if not Baxter himself, was a close associate. This copy donated by the Visitation Academy, 1867.

GTC H819

[Kohlmann, Anthony, 1771-1836]

"The Blessed Reformation." Martin Luther, Portrayed by Himself, contrasted with Martin Luther, Portrayed by the Rev. Messrs. Shoeffers, Pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church:--The One in the City of New York, and the Other in Fredericktown, Maryland, in Their Sermons, Preached on the Thirty-first of October, 1817. On Occasion of the Third Centurial Jubilee of the Reformation. ... By the Rev. John W. Beschter. Philadelphia: Published by Bernard Dornin, North-west Corner of Third and Walnut Streets. 1818.

Another response to the anniversary of the Reformation. This copy bears the statement, in a hand not yet identified, attributing authorship to Rev. Anthony Kohlmann. Beschter, like Kohlmann a Jesuit, merely lent his name ot the production; Kohlmann issued another counterblast to the Reformation over his own name.

General LC BX8065 .B47 1818


Kohlmann, Anthony, 1771-1836

Unitarianism Philosophically and Theologically Examined: In a Series of Periodical Numbers; Comprising a Complete Refutation of the Leading Principles of the Unitarian System. ...By the Rev. Anthony Kohlmann, Superior of the Catholic Seminary at Washington City. Washington City: Published by Henry Guegan, Pennsylvania Avenue. David and Force, Print. 1821[-22]

The notion of publishing the work in parts was abandoned after the combined sixth/seventh number, which completed the first volume of the work. The second volume was published as a single item; subscribers willing to be responsible for 10 copies of it were entitled to a free copy of either the first or second volume (as explained on the lower wrapper of part 6/7). The copy of the first part shown bears Kohlmann's presentation inscription to Rev. John Carbery.


O'Connolly, Patrick

The Catholic Faith, Ever the Samb, [sic] Yesterday, To-day and To-morrow, or an Irishman's Expostulation with an Apostate, the Companion of His Youth. In which he pathetically laments his spiritual blindness, proves the antiquity and purity of the faith from which he fell, investigates the motives which influenced him to so deplorable a change; and feelingly displays the falsity of carnal friends, and the nothingness of wealth and worldly honor. Composed towards the decline of the sixteenth century, and translated from the vernacular language of Erin. With a retrospect by way of supplement, in which some traits of the Irish character are given, together with that of the English, the instruments of our subjugation, By Patrick O'Connolly. Boston: Printed for the Author. 1822.

In part, controversy in verse (90 quatrains in all, with a two-page concluding "Poem" dealing with Irish and English traits). The claim of translation from "an old Irish manuscript of dignified poetry" can probably be dismissed out of hand.

General LC PB1429 .O36 1822

Pius VII

The Brief of His Holiness Pope Pius the Seventh, Addressed to Ambrose, Archbishop of Baltimore, to his Suffragan Bishops, to the Administrators of the Temporalities of the Churches, and to All the Faithful in the United States of America [Philadelphia? 1822?]

The most famous of Catholic pamphlet wars was that fought by Rev. William Hogan, Archbishop Marechal, various other clergy, and the trustees of St. Mary's Church, Philadelphia, in the early 1820's. Pius VII's brief, an attempt to end the matter utterly (his excommunication of Hogan was virtually ignored) was reprinted in this form by Hogan, with further blasts for his side appended; the authority of the Church in the case was, however, never in doubt from this time on. This copy bound last in a volume of 15 of the "St. Mary's Schism" pamphlets.

General LC BX4603.P52 H67 1822

VI. Miscellaneous Catholic Publications

Barruel, Augustin, 1744-1820

The History of the Clergy During the French Revolution; in Three Parts. By the Abbe Barruel, Almoner to her serene highness the Princess of Conti. Third Edition--First American. Burlington, Printed by I. Neale, and H. Kammerer, jun. M,DCC,XCIV.

A record of the persecutions suffered by Catholic clergy, perhaps most popular for its graphic accounts of tortures and martyrdoms, but in any case not published with a solely Catholic audience in mind.

Moreau de Saint-Méry, Médéric Louis Elie, 1750-1819

Description topographique et politique de la partie espagnole de l'isle Saint-Domingue; Avec des Observation générales sur le Climat, la Population, les Productions, le Caractêre & les Moeurs des Habitans de cette Colonie, & un Tableau raisonné des différentes parties de son Administration; Accompagnée d'une nouvelle Carte de la totalité de l'Isle. Par M. L. E. Moreau de Saint-Méry, Membre de la Société Philosophique de Philadelphie. Tome Premier [Second]. Philadelphie, Imprimé & se trouve chez L'Auteur, Imprimeur-Libraire, au coin de Front & de Walnut streets, No 84. 1796.

First edition; the author published an English translation in the same year. Written by a former inhabitant of Santo Domingo who narrowly escaped the guillotine in France in 1793, this work was aimed--accidentally--at a largely Catholic audience: many of the subscribers were former merchants or planters dislodged from what would become Haiti by the revolts there earlier in the decade. This copy, two volumes bound in one and lacking the large folding map, from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea F1901 .M826 1796

Maury, Jean Siffrein, 1746-1817

The Principles of Eloquence; Adapted to the Pulpit and the Bar. By the Abbe Maury. The First American Edition. Translated from the French; with additional Notes, by John Neal Lake, A.M. ... Albany: Printed by Loring Andrews & Co. For Thomas, Andrews & Penniman, Sold at their Bookstore, No. 45, State-Street, Albany; by I. Thomas, in Worcester; by Thomas & Andrews, in Boston; and by Thomas, Andrews & butler, in Baltimre.---1797.

First American edition of an influential work reprinted in 1807. First published in 1777, the work was written when Maury was 31, serving as a tutor to the French royal family. Lake's notes cite English texts and authorities more familiar in Protestant America than Maury's largely French sources. Among his dicta, however, is one which must hearten every preacher today: "Be not afraid of going in beaten tracks."

Shea PN4105 .M32 1797

DuBourg, Louis Guillaume Valentin, 1766-1833

College of George-Town, (Potomack) in the State of Maryland, United States of America. [Georgetown? 1798]

The first prospectus of America's first Catholic college, also issued simultaneously in a Spanish edition. The reference to the country assures that the Spanish version was intended for distribution in South America and the Caribbean, and Georgetown drew  students during DuBourg's tenure from both areas.

Wallace, James, 1787-1851

A New Treatise on the Use of the Globes, and Practical Astronomy; or a Comprehensive View of the System of the World. In Four Parts. ... Designed for the Instruction of Youth, and Particularly Adapted to the United States. By J. Wallace, Member of the New-York Literary Institution, &c. ...New-York: Printed and published by Smith & Forman, at the Franklin Juvenile Bookstores, 195 and 213 Greenwich-Street. 1812.

The first substantial American work on astronomy, written by a Jesuit who later taught at Georgetown, where "Wallace on the Globes" remained a standard text for some years. The "New-York Literary Institution" was a Catholic school that rivalled Georgetown for some years. The copy displayed bears pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC B261

Seton, Saint Elizabeth Ann, 1774-1821

Memoirs of Mrs. S*****. Written by Herself. A Fragment of Real History. Elizabethtown, N.J. Printed by Isaac A. Kollock, For himself, and others. 1817.

First edition of a very rare book: only 3 copies are recorded. The memoir was published by an Episcopal priest, without the permission of the Seton family, from a manuscript loaned to him. The preface makes it clear that he sought to minimize the impact of Mother Seton's conversion to Catholicism by proving that she was a "perfect Christian" before the conversion took place. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX 4700 .S4 S48 1817 Vault

Excerpta ex scriptoribus scholasticis. In usum Collegii Stæ. Mariæ Baltimorensis.

Veneunt Baltimori apud Fielding Lucas, Jr. Bibliopolam, viâ Mercatoriâ. 1824. Ex typis Josephi Robinson.

A distinctly Catholic-oriented school text, compiled by an alumnus of the "scholarum inferiorum" of St. Mary's Seminary, containing snippets of sacred history, Roman history, Phaedrus, Erasmus, and others.

Matthews, William, 1770-1854

A collection of Affidavits and Certificates, Relative to the Wonderful Cure of Mrs. Ann Mattingly, Which took place in the City of Washington D.C. on the tenth of March, 1824. City of Washington: Printed and Published by James Wilson, and sold at H. Guegan's Book Store, Pennsylvania Avenue. 1824.

The central document in the literature surrounding the famous "Mattingly miracle," compiled by a former president of Georgetown who was at the time serving as pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Washington. The author's own copy, in a contemporary red morocco binding with his name stamped on the upper board, the gift of John P. Chalmers.


The Battle of New Orleans; or, Jackson's Victory, a Poem. By a Citizen of Baltimore. With an Appendix, Containing the Reverend William DuBourg's Mandate; his Address to General Jackson, and the General's reply.

Published by E. M. Greene, S. W. Corner of Market and Gay Streets. Printed by J. Roach, Corner of Market and Frederick Streets, Baltimore. 1825.

Not only does this little pamphlet contain two pieces by DuBourg, it bears the following printed dedication: "To the Right Revd. William Dubourg, Bishop of New Orleans, whose patriotic exortations not a little contributed to inspire the defenders of New Orleans with that enthusiasm in the cause of liberty, for which they were so eminently distinguished; the following poem is respectifully inscribed, by his obliged humble servant and pupil, the author." This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea E356.N5 C58 1825

VII. Sermons

Gallagher, Simon Francis

A Sermon Preached on the Ninth Day of May, 1798, Observed as a Day of Fasting and Prayer, to Implore the Divine Aid and Protection in Favor of the United States. By the Reverend S. F. O'Gallaher, Catholic Priest of Charleston. Charleston: Printed by  W. P. Harrison [1798]

Shea BX1756 .G344 1798

Thayer, John, 1758-1815

A Discourse, Delivered, At the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, On the 9th of May, 1798, A Day Recommended by the President, for Humiliation and Prayer Throughout the United States. By the Reverend John Thayer, Catholic Missioner. Printed at the pressing solicitation of those who heard it. Printed by Samuel Hall, No. 53, Cornhill, Boston, 1798.

Concern over French demands for large monetary gifts and loans, as well as over a very real, if undeclared, naval war between France and the United States, lay behind President Adams' request for a national day of fasting and prayer. These two Catholic sermons aptly illustrate the range of clerical response. The text chosen by Gallagher, a portion of Psalm 113, cannot be farther from Thayer's selected verse from First Thessalonians, and the tone of the sermons mirrors this difference. It is not, strictly speaking, possible to tell what the occasion was meant to be from Gallagher's effort; Thayer, on the other hand, is vigorous and topical: native American, ardently Federalist, fervently anti-French, calling on Boston's Irish--who had no reason to applaud anything that favored England--to refrain from supporting the French cause. Thayer's sermon was reprinted in Baltimore in the same year, which indicates where John Carroll stood on the issue.


Carroll, John, 1735-1815

A Discourse on General Washington; Delivered in the Catholic Church of St. Peter, In Baltimore--Feb. 22d 1800. By the Right Rev. Bishop Carroll. Baltimore: Printed by Warner & Hanna [1800].

The only Catholic contribution to the very large number of sermons preached to commemorate Washington's life and works; in Carroll's discourse Washington has reached already the mythic status he enjoyed in our history for so long.


O'Leary, Arthur, 1729-1802

A Sermon on the Festival of St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland: Delivered in St. Patrick's Chapel, Sutton-street, Soho. By the Revd. Arthur O'Leary. Baltimore: Printed by Wane and Murphy, No. 3, North Gay-street. 1805.

One of the very earliest specimens of printing aimed especially at an Irish-American audience, reprinting a discourse by one of the most prominent Irish Catholic clergymen of the 18th century.


England, John, 1786-1842

The Substance of a Discourse Preached in the Hall of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, in the City of Washington, on Sunday, January 8, 1826. By the Right Rev. John England, D.D. Bishop of Charleston. Baltimore: Published by F. Lucas, Jun'r. No. 138 Market street. 1826.

The first Catholic sermon preached in the House, as England notes in his introductory paragraph. England's discussion touches on a number of sore points of misapprehensions concerning the Catholic Church, and it is clear he found a sympathetic audience, for his remarks could not have been delivered in much under 2 hours. This copy in the original printed wrappers.

General LC BX1751 .E66 1826

VIII. Catechetical Works

A Short Abridgement of Christian doctrine, Newly revised for the Use of the Catholic Church in the United States of America. To which is added, a short daily exercise. The twelfth edition, with approbation.

Georgetown: Printed by James Doyle. M.DCC.XCIII

Lacking the title leaf (and perhaps a preceding blank). Like all early catechisms, this one is very rare. The title was copied before 1937 from the other then-known copy, which by 1970 had itself disappeared. This particular text was reprinted at least twice in America up to 1798, and this copy was acquired by its first owner in September, 1794. From the libraries, successively, of J. M. Finotti and John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX1961 .C37 1793

Catéchisme ou abrégé de la foi catholique, Publié par ordre de Mgr. L'Archévêque de Paris pour les Fideles de son Dioceses, et enseigné dans las Missions des RR. PP. Capucins aux Isles sous le Vent de l'Amérique.

Baltimore: De l'Imprimerie de S. Sower, Ru, Rue de Fayette, pas loin de la rue de Hauard. 1796.

A catechism published for the benefit of the French-speaking refugee community in Baltimore (and, probably, Philadelphia as well): note the assurance that this is not simply a translation of some Jesuit-influenced Anglo-American text. bound with another French-language devotional work published in Baltimore in the same year. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX2113 .J6 1796

Hay, George, 1729-1811

An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine. By Bishop Hay. Philadelphia: Printed for Mathew Carey, No. 118, Market-street. 1800.

First American edition. Hay converted to Catholicism in 1749 and became a bishop in Scotland twenty years later. His catechism was the most extensive published up to this time in America. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea BX1961 .H39 1800

Catholischer Catechismus...

...worin die Catholische Lehre nach den Fuenf Hauptstuecken V. P. Petri Canisii, aus der Gesellschaft Jesu, erklaeret wird. Zum Unterrichte und Nutzen der Catholischen Jugend. Verfasst von Adam Britt, Pfarrer der Kirche zur Heiligsten Dreyfaltigkeit. Mit Bewilligung geistlicher Obrigkeit. Philadelphia: Gedruckt bey Conrad Zentler, in der Zwey-ten, nahe bey der Rehs-Strasses. 1810.

The second German-language Catholic catechism published in the United States, preceded only by that written by the schismatic Baltimore priest, Friedrich Caesar Reuter. German catechetical works traditionally followed the model established by the Jesuit saint, Peter Canisius.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent.

Published by Command of Pope Pius the Fifth. Translated into English by the Rev. J. Donovan, Professor, &c., Royal College, Maynooth. Baltimore: Published by Fielding Lucas, Jr. No. 138 Market Street [1829]

First American edition. The Tridentine catechism was intended primarily for the use of pastors, its goals being both general regularization of the instruction given to parishioners and solid opposition to the teachings of the Reformers. The dramatic increase in the Catholic population, and especially in the number of priests, from 1789 to 1829 is amply demonstrated by the fact that a market was considered to exist for this essentially quite scholarly work.

IX. Catholics in a Secular Society

Gallagher, Simon Francis

An Oration on the Anniversary of the Orphan Establishment, in Charleston, South-Carolina. Delivered by S. F. Gallagher, on the 18th October, 1798. Published at the Request of the Commissioners of the Orphan-House. ... Printed by W. P. Young & T. C. cox, Charleston. [1798]

One of the earliest printed documents of a Catholic-Protestant "ecumenical" project, Gallagher's oration is, as one would expect from a pastor, considerably like a sermon. There is, however, no mention of any specifics of religious belief which would render his effort unpalatable to Protestant ears: then as (sometimes) now, all Christians could unite in a worthy charitable  cause.


Badin, Stephen Theodore, 1768-1853

The Real Principles of Roman Catholics, In reference to God and the Country. A New Edition, Carefully revised and elucidated with notes. Dedicated to All Lovers of Truth. By a French Clergyman. ... Bardstown, (K.) Printed by F. Peniston. 1805.

In part, a republication of an earlier English tract, but the very extensive notes (four-fifths of the book) are by Badin. The book's reason he sets out in his introduction: "I have been often surprised, that a people so generally eager for instruction as the Americans are, should be so little acquainted with the real doctrines of the far greatest society of christians on earth, and that the universal practice of ephemeral scribblers and theological declaimers in this land of liberty and liberality, be to knock down the Papist before the reasons of his own are heard." First edition, despite the statement on the title, of the first Catholic book printed west of the Allegheny Mountains. This copy displays the pre-1836 Georgetown library markings.

GTC Y352

Golitsyn, Dmitri Dmitrievich, 1770-1840

To the Roman Catholick Citizens of Huntingdon & Cambria Counties. [n.p., 1808?]

The reply of Golitsyn (better known Anglicized as "Gallitzin") to charges of anti-democratic feeling attributable to his birth as a Russian prince, a letter sent to a newspaper here printed up as a separate pamphlet, with introductory matter, by one of his parishioners in western Pennsylvania. Golitsyn's letter to the editor is dated September 20, 1808. This is the only recorded copy, borrowed from the Woodstock Library.

Sampson, William, 1764-1836

The Catholic Question in America. ... Whether a Roman Catholic Clergyman be in any case compellable to disclose the secrets of Auricular Confession. Decided at the Court of General Sessions, in the City of New-York ... With the Arguments of Counsel, and the unanimous opinion of the Court, delivered by the Mayor, with his reasons in support of that opinion. Reported by William Sampson, Esq. One of the Counsel in the case. New-York: Printed by Edward Gillespy, No. 24 William-street. 1813.

The inviolate secrecy of the confessional was upheld in this landmark case involving Rev. Anthony Kohlmann, S.J., whose treatise on the subject of confession makes up an appendix (in fact, the whole second half of the volume). this copy originally from the library of St. Ignatius Loyola High School, New York.

GTC H822


[Jenkins, William]

An Address to the Catholic Voters of Baltimore. Baltimore: Printed by Lucas & Deaver, No. 19 South Calvert street. 1828.

The only Catholic contribution to the massive pamphlet war that attended the election of 1828. Jenkins, as first among a committee of seven signing the pamphlet, attacks John Quincy Adams for his anti-Catholic writings and for his use of local Catholic candidates to attempt to win the Catholic--especially the Irish Catholic--vote. This copy from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

Shea E380 .A44 1828

X. Newspapers

The Shamrock

New York, 1810-1817, 1822-1824.

Originally called "The Shamrock or Hibernian Chronicle," this weekly carried on its precarious existence longer than most such pioneering publications. Its principal emphasis was on news from Ireland, though there was usually coverage of American military news. The paper's purpose was not overtly religious. Shown is part of the issue of December 9, 1815, reporting on the death of Archbishop John Carroll. This volume from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

United States Catholic Miscellany

Charleston, 1822-1861.

Founded by Bishop John England of Charleston. The "Prospectus," repeated on the first page of the first few issues, gives the reasons for the publication (need for a clearly Catholic paper) and includes the following statement: "The principles of the publication will be candour, moderation, fidelity, charity, and diligence. Not that its conductors presume to attain the perfection of all or any of those qualities; but they will constantly keep them in view." Shown is the first issue, June 5, 1822. This volume originally received by Rev. John W. Beschter, president of Georgetown in 1829.

The Truth Teller

New York, 1825-1855.

The first "Irish-American" paper to be clearly Catholic in focus, although less attention was paid in it to American doings than to events in Ireland. Shown is an advertisement/prospectus for Georgetown College in the issue of January 7, 1826. This volume from the library of John Gilmary Shea.

The Jesuit or Catholic Sentinel

Boston, 1829-1834.

The first Catholic paper in Boston, and the first Catholic paper in America to emphasize doctrinal and educational articles over "news." The title itself caused trouble with some Catholics as well as with Protestants. Shown is the first issue, September 5, 1829. This copy donated by the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, Kentucky.

XI. Reference Works

Finotti, Joseph Maria, d. 1879

Bibliographia Catholica Americana: A List of Works Written by Catholic Authors, and Published in the United States. By Rev. Joseph M. Finotti. Part I. From 1784 to 1820 inclusive. New York: The Catholic Publication House, 9 Warren Street. 1872.

The pioneering work in American Catholic bibliography, compiled by a former librarian of Georgetown College and the first serious collector of early American Catholic books. Finotti recorded 295 titles in his period of coverage. This copy, the author's own, with manuscript notes by him and by John Gilmary Shea, who took over Finotti's bibliographical interests after his death.

General LC Z7837 .F51 1872

Parsons, Wilfrid, 1887-1958

Early Catholic Americana  A List of Books and Other Works by Catholic Authors in the United States 1729-1830   By Wilfrid Parsons, S.J.   New York   The Macmillan Company 1939.

Not a revision or extension of Finotti's work, but a complete new bibliography. Parsons, also a Georgetown librarian at one time, listed 595 titles before 1821 and a total of 1,119 before 1831. A half century after its publication, Parsons's bibliography shows its age: not so much in its not being comprehensive (which it is not), but in its hundreds of inaccuracies of description. The copy shown is the "official library" copy, containing typed slips recording 68 further entries held by Georgetown.